INDICATORS FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
ZIMBABWE COUNTRY CASE STUDY
INVIOLATA CHINYANGARA, ISRAEL CHOKUWENGA, ROSELYN G. DETE, LINDA DUBE, JOSHUA KEMBO, PRECIOUS MOYO & RATIDZAI SHARON NKOMO
7. Mudzi: a community case study
While the main report focuses on the data on children at national level this community case study data focuses on Mudzi as a small community within the country in Mashonaland East Province.
The objectives of the case study on Mudzi are basically the same as those contained in the main report. These are to:
Provide an evaluation of existing data on children with respect to their potential for developing indicators for monitoring children’s rights;
Further provide an evaluation of the existing structures at the community level that could be better suited for monitoring children’s rights;
Reflect on some current definitional issues in children’s rights and welfare that attain in Zimbabwe, but this time at a community level
This chapter does not provide a situational analysis of children in Mudzi. Its ultimate thrust has been to explore ways by which knowledge from the ground or grassroots can be or is useful for planning at that level. The chapter basically explores what simple methods of recording and communicating the data or information are used at the community level (the point of data collection), and also tries to explore other methods that could be used so that the data could be used to design and implement positive change in that particular community. Furthermore, apart from interest in the data, there is also interest in the structures that attain at the community level, with the need to appraise the structure and body that seems well suited to carry out a monitoring system for children’s rights at the community level.
This supplementary case study basically follows the same structure as the main report, although it has some few differences in sections when compared with the main report, which are the last sections of this chapter which focus on the appraisal of the community structures with a view to establish which of them could be suitably placed to monitor children’s rights.
Why was Mudzi chosen as the area of Study?
The district of Mudzi is made up of four communal lands, namely Mudzi Communal Land, Mkota Communal Land, Chikwizo Communal Land and Ngarwe Communal Land. Further, the whole district is made up of sixteen wards.
Mudzi was chosen as the area of study, first and foremost because of the work of the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee with support from our funding agency Redd Barna – Zimbabwe. A detailed exploration of the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee (MDCRC) is contained below. Briefly; the MDCRC is a non-governmental sector initiative within the district of Mudzi that seeks to promote an understanding and implementation of children’s rights. It is based on the guidelines of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
We chose the district of Mudzi in the first place, because the MDCRC is the only initiative in the country that is working in the area of children’s rights at the grassroots level. Thus it provides an opportunity to understand how the issue of children’s rights is understood and implemented at community level. Secondly, we chose the district of Mudzi because of the current mix of the community in terms of both people from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This was important in order to understand how people define themselves within border communities. This issue raises the question of the extent to which Mozambican children belong in the case study community. As we have shown in the main report, the concepts of community, identity and nationality (nationalism) are problematic within the African context, and globally. The issue of ‘Borders in Africa’ is related to the colonial mapping of Africa. Furthermore, the main report indicates clearly that minority languages within Zimbabwe are found within the peripheral border areas of Zimbabwe. It was therefore necessary to examine ideas about ethnicity, nationality and intermarriage, with respect to children’s rights. Thus information about formal and informal border arrangements was explored within this subject matter. As a result we defined the community of Mudzi to include cross border interactions.
Last but not least, Mudzi was chosen on the basis of some of the characteristics of its baseline information. All of the baseline data below are derived from the 1992 Census. The baseline data about Mudzi are comparative with data from other districts in the whole province of Mashonaland East.
Characteristics of the District of Mudzi
Mudzi district has a land area of 4,208.96 square kilometers. The estimated total population for the district for 1997 is 124,057 persons. The district’s population is estimated to double in about 27 years time. By the year 2000, the population for the district is estimated at 133,960 persons. According to the 1992 population census, Mudzi district had a total population of 109,152 persons of whom 53.73 percent were females and 46.28 were males. Since the number of females exceeded that of males this resulted in a sex ratio of 86.11 which was the lowest among all the districts of Mashonaland East province.
The district had a population density of 25.9 persons per square kilometer which compares with 32.1 persons per square kilometer for the province. The number of households in the district was 23 770 with an average household size of 4.56, slightly lower than that of the province, 4.68 persons per household. Mudzi, along with Hwedza, Marondera Rural, Seke and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe districts were completely rural as compared to Marondera Urban and Ruwa districts which were completely urban.
The rate of natural increase for Mudzi was 2.74 percent, slightly higher than that of the province which was 2.23 percent. The rate of natural increase is the difference between the crude birth and death rate. Mudzi district had the highest crude birth rate (36.56) as well, and the highest crude death rate (11.97). These compare with those of the province of 33.16 and 10.83, respectively.
The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) represents the number of children a woman would have by the end of her reproductive cycle. The TFR for the province showed that on average, there were 6.01 children per woman. Mudzi had the highest TFR (7.12) while Marondera Urban had the least TFR (4.57). The General Fertility Rate (GFR) is the simplest measure that tries to relate births to the population at risk of giving birth. Again it is observed that Mudzi had had the highest GFR of 215 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 49 years while Marondera Urban had the least GFR of 158. The GFR for the province was 183 births per 1000 woman in the reproductive ages of 15 to 49 years.
Mudzi district had the highest level of infant mortality rate of 70 deaths per 1000 live births while Ruwa had the lowest of 46 deaths per 1000 live births. Mudzi also had the highest child mortality rate of 29 deaths. Life expectancy at birth for the district was the lowest for 60 years. The mortality situation seems to be heavier for the boy child than the girl child. Maternal mortality is also high in Mudzi (529 deaths per 100,000 live births). The maternal mortality rate for the province was 449.
In terms of the availability of sanitary facilities, Mudzi is the district with the highest proportion of households in the province with no toilet facilities (71 percent), followed by Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (67 percent), Murehwa (62 percent), and Mutoko (57 percent). The highest proportion of households using wood for cooking was also highest in Mudzi and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe with about 97 percent each. Less than 10 percent of the households in /Mudzi had dwelling units with electricity.
Analysis of the 1992 population data by level of education completed shows of all nine districts in Mashonaland ‘East, Mudzi had the highest proportion of persons aged at least 5 years who had not completed any level of education (17.19 percent), compared with 2.14 percent for Marondera Urban. The proportion who had at least a first degree were also least in Mudzi (1.39 percent) compared with 27.45 for Goromonzi and 21.55 for Marondera Urban.
For census purposes, the population, i.e. aged at least 15 years who had completed at least grade 3, were classified as literate. Based on this definition, Mudzi had the lowest literacy rate in the province (62 percent) with males having a higher literacy rate (74 percent) than females (53 percent). It is noted that Mudzi is the same district which had the highest number of persons with no education. The literacy rate for the province was 80 percent.
Process of data gathering in Mudzi
The first thing that we did was to scan through secondary data that we could access about the situation of children in Mudzi. We combed through the limited baseline surveys and other existing data about the district of Mudzi, that could shed light on some important issues about the state of the children, what initiatives exist within the interests of children, poverty situation, and the political economy of the district. Where we did not get already existing data, we carried out what we would call informed opinion surveys. Informed opinion surveys are based on the understanding that in all communities there are individuals who because of their professional, occupational or other social roles are in a position to provide opinions regarding the issue being investigated. With reference to the brief survey of the district of Mudzi, it was therefore necessary to supplement the limited secondary data with some such surveys. There was no systematic sampling carried out in order to get the sample.
Apart from supplementing existing data, the purposes of the survey was to get an overview of what the situation is like as well as to get an idea of what patterns, forms, causes, etc., the phenomenon takes. Furthermore, the surveys afforded us the chance to feel of what the community think and strongly feel about some issues pertaining to the welfare of children as well as what they think could be done. The surveys also afforded us with the chance to take stock of whatever initiatives exist in the district for the benefit of the child. This was ultimately important in that whatever recommendations are made with reference too the possibility of a monitoring system, such recommendations should take stock of what is already in place and also within the capabilities of the community. This would ensure that our recommendations are realistic and within reach.
At the end of our search for already existing data and the supplementary surveys that we carried out, we found it useful to bring some representatives of each sector to a one day round table discussion of the findings exercise. The stake-holders that participated in the discussion were:
- The MDCRC;
- The Department of Social Welfare, Mudzi District;
- The Z.R.P;
- The Local Authority, Mudzi District Council.
Data on children-parent relationships in Mudzi
This part of the report examines which kind of data that were found in the Department of Social Welfare in Mudzi district. As we have noted in the main report the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare is the key agency for implementing child welfare policy. This function continues to exist at district level. The Department’s Social Welfare Officers act as probation officers appointed in terms of Section 47 of the Protection and Adoption Act to protect children and represent their interests as officers of the high court. Therefore the following section of the community case study will deal with the role of the Department of Social Welfare in child welfare. The next section will deal with the role of the Social welfare Officers in their position as probation officers.
- Probation officers’ report
In cases relating to children in cases of delinquency the probation officers report is essential for how the case is dealt with within the justice system. The probation officers recommendations are always adhered to. Child-parent relationships play an important part in determining how a case is dealt with in the department of social welfare. In cases where by a child is an offender or a victim the probation officers report plays an important part in determining the out come of the case in court. The probation officers report takes the following format:
1. Present Offence
2. Previous Offence
3. Family composition
5. Family Background
6. Early developmental history
8. Behaviour and Personality traits
9. Attitude towards the offence
10. Diagnostic evaluation
This kind of information is very important in understanding all the aspects that relate to the child. As a result these could form very good indicators of children’s rights if they are used for all the child welfare cases that are dealt with in the Department since they encompass elements of time, place and proportion. This could be important in developing a children’s rights monitoring system.
- The record of information
The record of information form is the standard form used when dealing with children. It usually comprises of very long reports concerning children who are dealt with by the probation officer and it carries the following details:
- Personal Details
- Date of Birth
- Place of registration of Birth
- Immigrated Yes/No: From where: Date and place of entry:
- Towns lived in since then
- Residence at time of offence
- Full address
- Home Language
- Reason for appearance in court
- Previous offences and dates
- Previous sentence/ type of punishment
The personal details of each child can enable a compilation of data with disaggregation in terms of time place and proportion. In the personal details we find information in terms of the ages of the children, registration details, place, type of offence and previous offence.
- Family Details
Father’s and mother’s:
- Christian names
- Regularity of employment for the past 5 years (and periods of unemployment).
The details of parents forms an important basis for understanding the particular child and the reasons behind the offence. The parents details describe status indicators of the child and perhaps some relationship can be found between certain types of offences and aspects of the parents occupation or regularity of parents employment. Through discussion with the Social Welfare Officer and through ones own observation one discovered that many families within the border area of Nyamapanda engage in very little farming activity. Since in some families neither of the parents is employed chances are that children may engage in illegal activity to sustain their families or at least themselves, leaving parents with less of a burden. Some of these activities, particularly by the border post (cleaning buses, off loading trucks, mending tyres, prostitution) make children vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation. The poverty that is within the family as a result of no family income weakens the child parent relationships. These kind of connections can be made through analysis of the parents details and occupational status.
- Family Background
- Others in the household
- Number and order of wives
- Type of community. (If urbanized state when person came to town)
- Any family history of mental and physical defects and alcoholism
- Moral standards of persons
- Relatives or friends willing to assist in the case
- Attitude of parents to the offence
- Plan of parents to combat influence and/ or proposals in this regard
- Standing and reputation of the family in the community (e.g. status, position, tribal head, etc.)
- Housing conditions (e.g. size of house, furnishings, cleanliness, overcrowding, state of grounds, area rating, etc.)
- Impression of house and the home conditions
- Family relationships
- Parents alive?
- Family member with a criminal record
The family background differs to the family details in that it does not place emphasis on the parent of the child but rather on all the aspects of the child’s life.
This material on family background assists the Social Welfare Officer in understanding the individual child more and this kind of information is very child centred. The family background of a child is an important indicator of child welfare problems such as delinquent behaviour, vulnerability to abuse, violations of basic children’s right such as the right to health and the right to education. Matters of background should be looked into so as to see how intervention measures can be put into place.
- Type of discipline in the home
Type of discipline in the home
- What form did punishment take (Corporal punishment, deprivation of privileges, rejection, verbal reprimand)
- Person sensitive/ over sensitive/ indifferent to discipline
- Family conflicts
- Have they had any known effects on the person
- Are parents both out of work
- To which parent is person attached
- What relationship exists between person and siblings
Family relationships are very important in issues of child welfare. The basis of family relationship lie in the quality of child-parent relationships. This quality is also a children’s rights issue.
- Husband-Wife relationships
- Date and place of present marriage
- Date and place of previous marriage
- Are parents devoted/ estranged/ indifferent
- Are they good domestic managers
- Who carries the main responsibility in the home
- Are either or both ineffectual/ casual/ conscious of their responsibilities to one another and the children
The main report states that during marriage both parents have the duty to support the children and each parent must contribute in proportion to his means. Therefore it is important to look in to child parent relationship in light of the nature of the parents relationship as the different aspects of the relationship form important indicators of child welfare. Although the duty of parents to support their children are not brought to an end by divorce, and both parents remain obliged to take care of child in the same way, this has an effect on the child, making divorce in its self an indicator of child welfare.
- History of person’s development in the family circle
History of person’s development in the family circle
- Were there any complications at birth
- Milestones (sitting, crawling, walking, talking, toilet training)
- Major upsets in the family (indicate type and what effect these had on the person)
- Good and bad habits
- Did child mature early
- Besides school did the child have any other tuition (what attitude did they have towards them)
- Is person sexually precocious (from what age did person reveal in these matters)
- Has it any bearing on present case
- From what source did person obtain information
- What attitude do parents adopt in the matter of sex
- Does person easily cultivate friends
- If the crime in which the person is involved included his gang, what role did he/ she play
- What household chores, duties and responsibilities are allocated, and to which extent are they enforced by the parents
- Religious affiliations and/ or outside interests and cultural aspirations
- Recreational interests and/ or associations
The history of the child’s development in the family circle form very important indicators of the status of the child and his/her personality traits.
- State of health (particular reference to be made to any infectious diseases
Brief psychological roles
- Mental ability (IQ)
- Chronological age/ estimated mental age
- Introvert/ extrovert
- Imaginative/ dull
- Overconfident/ lacks confidence
The material in the record of information as stated before tends to be very long and detailed for the purposes of monitoring children’s rights. However if all the information was to be systematically summarized in to a spread sheet encompassing children dealt with leaving important elements of time, place and proportion an effective monitoring system can be developed. At present most of the information on the record of information reports is lost as emphasis is placed on the number of cases dealt with by the Social Welfare Officers which do not necessary include children. This will be further examined in the following section.
- The type of information on Monthly case Contacts Records
It is however important to note that within this data there are several limitations in as far as it relates to children’s right and welfare. As the Department of Social Welfare is the custodian of child welfare one would expect that there would be some kind of emphasis on children in the data that is collected. In the monthly case contact we find that the issues or cases dealing specifically with children include the following:
- child welfare
- education grants
- school fees awards
In those cases one questions whether the material is child centred. As far as child welfare is concerned the term in its self is very vague as there is no detail on what kind of cases that were dealt with; which children in Mudzi were affected; and the areas in which the children came from. Further more the cases of delinquency have similar limitations. One finds that the nature of delinquency cases is not very clear.
In looking more carefully at the type of data found in the Department of Social Welfare and compare it with the data which is produced for the purposes of Head Office we find that a lot important information relating to children is lost between the detailed reports on children and the simulated monthly case contacts. The following section reveals the richness in the data found in the data collected (relating to children) by the social welfare officer.
- Child Welfare register
The child welfare register consists of the following information:
1. File number
2. Name of child
3. Date of appearance in court
4. Name of institution
- Children in Institutions
In Mudzi District there are no institutions where children can be placed and therefore as a result children are placed in institution very far from their home area which cut a substantial amount of family contact. The places where by the children are taken are shown below:
|No of children||Name of institution||Validity of court order|
|All Souls mission
Highfield probation home
King George probation Home
Harare Children’s Home
Foster care with foster fees
Foster care without foster fees
|All the court orders are valid for a period of 3 years. In this situation the court orders are for periods of three years before period review of placement. The time frame of the court orders in the institutions and foster home extends between July 1996 and March 1999.|
Data on Mudzi district national registration
- Requirements for registration of births
Current registration (For children who are one year and below)
- Birth confirmation- for children who are born in clinics the birth confirmation form is given to them after birth and for children who are born at home with the assistance of traditional midwives the children are given their birth confirmation form when they go to the clinic for their vaccination;
- Mother’s and father’s National Registration Cards;
- However in cases where children have been born at home and somehow did not get a birth confirmation record, in order to register the parents are required to have a witness;
- If parents are legally married and have a marriage certificate any one of the parents can register the child;
- For births out of wedlock, the mother of a child can register a child under her maiden name.
Requirements for late registration
- Two witnesses are required for late registration of a child, if the child is 16 years and above.
Data that are collected in order to register a child
Date of marriage
Place of marriage
At the time of this birth was the father, or in the case of an illegitimate, the mother:
a) Subject to diplomatic immunity in Zimbabwe;
b) a prohibited immigrant or unlawfully resident in Zimbabwe;
c) ordinary resident in Zimbabwe (i.e. is the parents normal home in Zimbabwe;
d) a citizen of Zimbabwe
Part 3 and 4 Details of the mother and father
Country of birth
Usual home address
National identity card number
Part 5 Details of person giving notice of Birth
Name in full
Qualification I terms of section II of the births and Deaths Registration Act, 1986 for giving notice of birth
Usual home address
Reasons why this birth was not notified within 42 days from the date of birth (complete if applicable)
Signature of person giving notice of birth
- Actual registrations of births in Mudzi District:
January to December 1996: 6885
January to June 26 1997: 1074
- Requirements for the Registration of the death of a child:
- Birth certificate of the child
- Cause of death certificate from the hospital.
- If death is outside the hospital a letter from the village head is required and two witnesses (preferably the mother and father)
- Data Required to register a death of a child:
Part 1 Personal details of the Deceased
- First Names
- Usual residential address
- Country of birth
- Date of Death
- Place of Death
- Intended place of death/cremation
- Cause of death
- Duration of last illness
- Name of medical practitioner who attended the deceased
Part 2 Person giving notice of Death
- I am giving notice of this death as…
- Usual residential address
- Date of notice of death
- Signature of person giving notice of death
- Actual Registration of DeathsThe number of death registrations of children could not be found as the deaths of children were combined with the deaths of adults and there was no way that the actual figures could be found.
DATA ON EDUCATION FROM THE DISTRICT OF MUDZI
A survey to gather existing data on education in the District of Mudzi in Mashonaland East was carried out in six schools in the south of the district, generally being in the south of the Centre of Kotwa. The primary schools covered were: Makaha, Kanyoka, Vhombozi, Nyamapanda, Muzezuru, and briefly Nyakadetsha, for comparative purposes. In the data analysis below we will try to retain anonymity of the schools covered as was requested by the school authorities. There were a number of issues that came out in the analysis of the data and how the data is stored, or recorded by school authorities.
- School Enrollment Rates
On the situation of enrollments for 1997 it was generally noted that there were more girls than boys in Grades 1 and 2, more at par in Grades 3 to 5 and more boys than girls in Grades 6 and 7. It would have been interesting if the data showed transition rates of each class as it moves from Grade 1 upwards (see comment 1 above). This would have made it possible follow the trends and explain them more specifically rather than use the generalized approach.
In some schools data on school enrollments showed two classes of Grades 1 and 2. But when the classes reached Grade 3 and upwards the other class would have been lost.
School enrollment rates are derived from class enrollment figures. From class enrollment figures and other characteristics it is possible to derive school enrollment patterns and the various characteristics of the children in the school, such as their ages, comparison between sexes or gender, where the children enrolled come from, etc. Analysis of class by class enrollment trends of over the years can give a picture of class enrollment trends, while school enrollment figures when also analyzed overtime can give a picture of school enrollment trends.
In the Mudzi data it was very clear that such trends as spelt out above are possible to calculate. In fact we established from the data that some schools have a trend of enrolling at least two classes in Grade 1 up to Grade 3. After Grade 3 there is a tendency to lose children equal to a class. Furthermore, it was possible to locate these schools geographically within the district of Mudzi. They are found within Kotwa and Nyamapanda Border Post. Out of this observation it is then possible to find out why such a trend exists.
Analysis of data from schools on enrollment trends showed distribution of schools shows which according to experts in the history of the local area clearly shows the effects of Renamo infiltration during the late 1980s and the early 1990s. School enrollments in the Mazezuru and Nyamapanda schools are extremely high. In fact there are double classes and hot-seating (morning and after noon classes making use of the same classroom and other resources) in the two schools. While data from schools in the north of the district show low enrollments, especially with one school at the border with a low as 34 children for the whole school, which is low for even a class.
Generally, there are more schools in the south than in the north of the district. Such a pattern is said to be partly a result of the more recent Renamo incursions and the war of liberation in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe which tended to displace border communities. In most cases border communities would form some kind of concentrated villages for the sake of security. Thus the trend that we see in the district of Mudzi is that people moved from the north of the district into the Nyamapanda-Kotwa area for security reasons as result of the Renamo incursions and more people south of Kotwa and Nyamapanda are said to have been due to the effects of the liberation wars in the two countries.
- School Drop-out Rates
On the situation of enrollments for 1997 it was generally noted that there were more girls than boys in Grades 1 and 2, more at par in Grades 3 to 5 and more boys than girls in Grades 6 and 7. As we have noted above, in some schools data on school enrollments showed two classes of Grades 1 up to 3. But when the classes reached Grade 3 and upwards the other class would have been lost.
For example the general explanation is that girls drop out because as they grow older there are also more demanding household chores; they get married. However, it is very clear that even data on the enrollment of boys in Grades 6 and 7 does register a decline from that in Grade 6, but we will not be sure unless data on transition rates of the same class are available. Surprisingly the decline in the enrollment of boys seems to be less of a noticeable issue because of the entrenched belief that most of the school drop-out are girls. In fact the data that we have show significant drop-outs of boys who are said to be involved in gold panning, and herding of cattle.
- Transition Rates
In the data on transition from one class to the other at the end of the year and the onset of the new year, it was difficult to establish data linkages from one year to the other by class. Data that exist on a particular grade do not show the progress of the same grade as it moves from the current grade to the next the following year. If school heads and teachers keep track of such information they would be able to manage information on drop-out rates. Further, they would know exactly the children who failed to enroll for the current year from the previous year, their names, age, sex, where they come from and other necessary details, and could even make a follow up to establish why the children failed to enroll for the year.
Another transition rate that is not followed up is that of the Grade 7 Class when it graduates into Form One in the following year. It would make sense for a school to be proud of its Grade 7 students and therefore, should find out how many of its children graduating in Grade 7 have had the right to continue with their education by enrolling in Form One. It would be important to seek to know where each child is enrolled for Form One Classes and those that have also failed to further they education. There could be a comparison between the two sets in terms of who those children are (name, age, sex), where do they come from (geographic space within the district, and family backgrounds), etc. Such issues recorded and analyzed overtime could bring a clear picture of some of the children whose right to further their education is not realized.
- Age at which children start school
More children start school at the age of 7 years, followed by many at age 8 and a few at age 6 and below. Generally, from the data that we gathered there is a indication that children start school at ages 7 and 8, and these two age groups account for over 70% of the children enrolled in Grade 1. However, figures vary by school but is enough to say that the percentage of children in the 7 and 8 age group is generally higher than that of the other groups combined (6 and below and those children age above 9)
Generally, children enroll for Grade 1 classes at an older age than presumed. This is because of the distances the children have to undertake to reach school, which are sometimes above 5 kilometres.
Ages at which children leave Primary School show that they leave school late at an average age of 15 years.
- Automatic Promotion/Repetition Rates
One issue that was not clear in the data in the main report was the data on automatic promotion and repetition rates.
Data on repetition rates does not exist in official records because by law every student has the right to continue with their education through each grade. For example in Primary School each child will be automatically promoted until Grade 7, from Grade 7 into Form One, which is Secondary Level, and from Form One to Form Four. Thus repetition rates are said to be unnecessary.
However, at the school level it was very clear that while repetition rates are unnecessary according to the laws of the land, they are however, possible to record and analyze over a given period of time. According to school heads some parents request that their children be offered the chance to repeat a certain class if they feel that they are weak and did not do well. Because such information is not required by education authorities the school heads do not keep track of it. Yet according to education experts it is very normal that some children are likely to lag behind in terms of performance than others. If they are just pushed through the system, this becomes more harmful to their future than beneficial. After failing their final exams, especially Form Four, they are looked upon as failures. This further points to the need to rethink the thrust or purpose of education in this country, which is too academically oriented.
- Staff Retention/Turnover Rates
The most common reason/excuse that was offered in the failure by teachers and school heads to record transition rates of every class yearly was that there is high staff turnover in schools. The most common response to questions by school heads and their deputies was “I am or We are new here so I am or we are not sure”. In fact the data on school teachers did reflect on high staff turnover, of senior and qualified teachers.
- Class Social Registers
We also noted that each school has a comprehensive social register which is to be completed by a teacher of each class. However, the register seems not to be well completed because it is not enforced by the school system. In discussions with headmasters it was clear that social registers are not a priority to teachers when faced with time constraints and also that the heads have no legal basis to support the enforcement of completing the social registers. In fact most of the information in social registers gets left out when a school submits its details to Head Office.
The social register explores the following issues pertaining to the life of the child:
2. Age and height
3. Rank in family
4. Father’s name
5. Parents’ occupation and address
6. Previous illness of the child
7. Hearing status
8. Eye sight
9. Personal cleanliness
10. General behaviour
13. Classroom participation
15. Distance from home to school
We have to point out here that the above issues are exhausted for the purpose of this report. We had to take all the issues covered in each and every social register. In reality each register does not cover all of the above listed issues. However, the most important unanswered question is how in reality the social register is made use of without reflecting the prejudices of the teacher. Issues such as trustworthiness seem difficult to be measured objectively.
- The Progress Record Book
Apart from the social register there is also the Progress Record Book. The progress record book takes stock of all the scores of written tests by the child with particular emphasis on the three subjects only which are namely, English, Shona and Content, and then the teacher’s comments below.
Data from the schools show that school heads and teachers try by all means to record data that they feel would be useful for in their work and in dealing with the school children. Thus it seems clear that their data have some richness which is lost in the data captured at the national level. Furthermore, data from schools do indicate that it is possible to gather and disaggregate it as much as it is possible.
Data from Mudzi on child exploitation
Data in this section of the report cover the issues of economic and social exploitation of children. Social exploitation entails the such issues as the abuse and neglect of children as a result of traditional beliefs and practices.
Secondary data coming out of Mudzi on the subject of child exploitation are very limited.
In the research proposal by the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee (MDCRC) to carry out a survey on the issue of exploitation of children in the district of Mudzi, the issue of concern is that boys and girls between the ages of nine to 16 are ‘always’ seenduring day and night, among other activities roaming the area of Nyamapanda Border Post. The concern is that children are exploited and their rights abused there-by minimizing their chances of success in future.
According to the MDCRC the children are involved in some of the following activities:
- cleaning buses that ply the Nyamapanda-Harare route for a small fee;
- engaged for a small fee by truckers en-route to Malawi or from Malawi into Zimbabwe to remove or re-do the ‘tents’ covering their cargo;
- girls are involved in prostitution with both local boys and men as well as with truckers and bus drivers. The latter two create an environment conducive to prostitution within the border post.
In the interest of the child, the MDCRC commissioned a survey exploring the issue of exploiting children within the district. Unfortunately, the report on the survey has been of limited use in this study.
Thus, in the absence of adequate secondary data, we had to collect some bits of raw data from which we could assess the possibility of ways of recording of the data on the ground for monitoring purposes.
There are a number of situations in Mudzi through which children are exploited. Some of the most common forms of child exploitation are through:
- gold panning found in the South (in Makaha, Kudu and Nyamazizi areas) and North of the District (near Mazowe River Bridge).
- herding cattle, in the case of boys who are come from poorer households.
- domestic work, in the case of girls, who work for the wealthier families in the community, including civil servants within the district.
- child sexual abuse.
- Data on Gold Panning
Gold panning that attracts people from Mudzi is found in the South (Makaha, Kudu and Nyamazizi belt) and North (Mazowe River area) of the District. Unfortunately due to time constraints we could not visit the gold panning activities found in the Mazowe Area, which are said to attract a significant number of people from the district of Mudzi. We only visited the activities found in the South of the District of Mudzi.
Through the survey of the Makaha, Kudu and Nyamazizi gold panning activities (which for brevity’s sake I will refer to it as the Makaha Gold Panning Belt) we noted that the exploitation of the belt began as far as the colonial era. Mining claims in this belt, especially the reef mining claims, are said to have been originally worked by Rhodesian Whites before the war of liberation. During the war of liberation they fled their claims and never returned after the war, at independence. Mining claims were therefore taken over by the Black Zimbabweans, from within and outside the district.
It is reported that settlements of people within and outside the district of Mudzi sprung around the mining claims. Some people with mining claims come as far as Harare. Most of the settlements are made out of pole and dagga huts and some of them sit on precarious land that was once worked on in search for gold. The bigger settlement of the community is in fact surrounded by derelict land whose tunnels have fallen in. There are ugly signs of land degradation.
Mining claims are often made up of 100 square metres. Licences to work on alluvial mining claims are issued by the District Council while licences to work on reef mining claims are issued by the Registrar of Mines. For the former, which are more prevalent, the yearly licence costs about Z$ 520,20.00.
Currently, with the general slump in mineral prices the world over, gold from alluvial mining claims costs Z$ 90,00 per milligramme, while that from reef mining claims costs Z$ 80,00 per milligramme. Gold from reef mining claims is usually in powder form and needs much more processing for purification.
It was unclear as to how children are used in gold panning. One way by which children are said to be exploited in gold panning activities is via the pooling of family labour in a family gold panning enterprise. Another possible avenue through which children could be exploited in gold panning is through “sub-contracting”. Sub-contracting would ensure that children earn money independent of the family.
We noted that gold panning is tucked away in the bushes. It takes place where there are very minimal basic services for survival. There are no schools, clinics, shops, etc. In fact such essential services as shops are of a makeshift nature. Comparing with data on education, it came as n surprise that some children start schools as late as 8-9 years, because they will be with their parents in the gold panning enterprise as they may not cope with long distances to nearer schools. Unfortunately, it seems that the time they are about 13 years they are seen as capable of working in the panning enterprise and therefore give up school. Thereafter, girls might fall pregnant early as the community in the gold panning areas is predominantly male.
- Children in stone crushing and brick-kilns
There is a lot of building going on in the district’s centre of Kotwa, which is about 22km from the Nyamapanda Border Post. It is reported that builders and even owners of the house being built make use of children to crush stones at the site of the building. All the builders or owners do is to ferry big stones to the site of the building and then make use of children to crush the stones.
Another activity in which children seemed to be engaged was in brick making. Brick making involves ferrying water to the site on which bricks are being molded. The children can ferry the water to this site and further be used in mixing the mud and water using their bare feet, apart from carry the big molds that shape the bricks. Further children can be used to build the kiln, cut heavy wood with which to fire the bricks as well as fire the bricks.
These are activities which we could not rule out in Kotwa as the village transforms itself into some form of town and the fact that building standards are still too lenient.
- Children involved in trans-border deals and smuggling
There are no official data on this subject. However, when talking to the police, customs officials and the community at large within the border areas, it was very clear that children are involved in some of these activities alongside adults.
In Nyakadecha we were informed that there is smuggling of second hand clothing. It was reported that despite the problem of land mines, there are well known routes which are followed. Furthermore, we were informed that this issue is not easy too control because the people on the Zimbabwean side of the border are the same people living on the other side of the border (in Mozambique). The explanation we were given for such a scenario is that at the end of the civil war in Mozambique, some of the Mozambicans did not want to lose their homes in Zimbabwe. Thus they are said to have ‘bribed’ some local authorities such as chiefs to stay. While at the sometime, they revived their homes in Mozambique. Thus the issue of trans-border smuggling is an issue of illegal transfer of resources from one home on the other side of the border to the other. In as much as used clothing is smuggled from Mozambique into Zimbabwe some products from Zimbabwe are smuggled into Mozambique.
In Nyamapanda Border Post, smuggling is believed to be at its worst on Mondays when the border controls are relaxed to allow people from Mozambique to visit their relatives in Zimbabwe. At the Border Post smuggling is not only limited to clothing but includes drugs and foreign currency. The normal entry point is also used by child porters carrying fizzy drinks (Coke, Fanta, etc.) beer, sugar, tea and other similar products.
The smuggled items find their way into Kotwa or direct to Mutoko and Harare. Some clients for the child-smugglers are gainfully employed people living in Kotwa and the Nyamapanda Border Post and within the district. With regular income from their work such people create a ready market for the products of the child-smugglers. The buyers stock and supply other people within the district and outside normally supplying small towns and cities such as Harare. The child-smuggler sells a bail of clothing for as much as Z$ 1 500.00, while the buyer or middle “men” sells the same bail for as much as Z$ 3-5 000.00.
- ‘Car-washing boys’
At the Border Post, as has been mentioned above, one problem on the exploitation of children is experienced when children are asked by bus drivers and truckers to clean their buses and trucks respectively. The children are paid a small fee for their work.
The MDCRC notes that the bus drivers and truckers often deny using children to clean their buses and trucks. However, on every visit to the Border Post we have seen the children cleaning buses or working on the covers of trucks.
- Prostitution at the border post
This subject raises a lot of emotions within the community in Kotwa. It seems to have been part of the reasons why the MDCRC commissioned a research or survey into the situation of children in Mudzi.
As was noted out above, girls are involved in prostitution with both local boys and men as well as with truckers and bus drivers. The truckers and bus drivers seem to have created an environment conducive to prostitution within the Border Post.
It is, however, not clear as to where the children involved in prostitution come from as there are no conclusive data at the moment. But there is no doubt that the majority of children come from within the district and the other side of the community in Mozambique. Some of the children are said to come as far as Mutoko and other places outside the district of Mudzi and the Mashonaland East Province, there-by making the issue of prostitution at the border post a national issue.
- Herd boys and domestic workers
Herd boys are basically domestic workers but for the sake of this section we are differentiating them from the domestic work confined within the homestead.
Herding cattle is primarily the responsibility of boys while domestic work seems to be that of girls.
In discussions we had with the community it was very clear that because of the HIV/AIDS scourge orphans are parcelled out to relatives or to those members of the community who can make use of them as herd boys or domestic workers. It was difficult to establish how such children are paid, but the general feeling was that payment is not construed in the formal sense as we do. A child can work for years without payment but receiving up-keep. In the case of girls the most important thing was upkeep until the girl attains marriageable age.
- Abuse and neglect of children
According to discussions with the community and the data we accessed we noted that abuse of children comes mainly in the form of sexual abuse of girls. For example from the few 12 cases that have been recorded by the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee as from late 1996, 5 of these cases had to do with sexual abuse. The other 4 had to do with emotional abuse, while the other three were of a physical abuse nature. All the 12 cases involved children aged below 12 and as low as 2 months old.
Below are the ages of the children abused:
Sexual abuse: 4, 9, 10, 12, 12.
Emotional abuse 2 months, 3, 6, 9.
Physical abuse 9, 10, 12.
There was no disaggregation of the above in terms of gender, although generally one can infer from the name of the child whether the child is a boy or girl, but this is nothing to go by at all times.
Sexual abuse cases indicated the abuse of girls only. Two of the five cases indicate who abused the girl. In one case the girl was abused by her care giver, while in the other case the girl was abused by a young boy slightly older than her, but still considered a minor. In the other three cases the perpetrators are not stated. Interventions ranged from investigations with the police to taking the child into an institution of care while investigations continued.
Due to limited data, we could not fully analyze the various issues of sexually abusing children. But the most important understanding is that there is a belief within the community that it is not so abnormal for a father to have sex with her daughter. In fact there is belief that girls who do sleep with their fathers receive blessings for fertility and success in their marriage in future.
There are four cases of emotional abuse recorded. These four cases involved two house holds. In one house hold three children suffered such abuse. The other case was of a two months old infant who lost both parents and was looked after by an old person (the grandmother). The MDCRC successfully applied to the Department of Social Welfare to put the infant on social assistance. The other three children living by themselves were left by their father locked in a hut and later ran out of food. Their father, a soldier and a divorcee, had gone away for a while on duty. The children had to be reunited with their mother.
In the data there were three cases of physical abuse. All the cases were where children were beaten or assaulted by a care giver such as an older sibling or a parent or guardian. In one extreme case children were assaulted by their father using a pulley chain like the one on a bicycle. Intervention methods ranged from counseling of the care-giver to criminal charges and the abuser sentenced to community service.
Data on juvenile justice and rehabilitation
Secondary data from Mudzi on juvenile justice and rehabilitation were collected from the Department of Social welfare and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. This was supplemented by discussions with the MDCRC.
- Nyamapanda Police Station
Nyamapanda police station is right at the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The data concerning juvenile justice were very scant. It was not easy for the police officers to lay their hands on any document for a juvenile except one. We used this particular one document to get an insight into what kind of information is captured by the police.
- Case Records
These are in form of what are called police dockets. These are individual files on offenders. These case records comprise of information on ages of children, sex, and the type of offence, residential address, village and chief. There is also a voluntary statement by the accused child. However data on children are not separated from adults. All the records are lumped together with the rest of the records. This is why it was difficult to find files on juvenile offenders. The data are mainly on offenders. There were no data on victims.
Some of the data was got from an interview with the officer in charge of the station. It was learnt that juveniles between the ages of 14-15 may not need the presence of their parents when being interviewed accept when it is a serious offence such as murder. Some juveniles who are above 15 and below 18 can be treated as adults. From the interview with the officer in charge t was learnt that many cases involving juvenile go unreported. This is because of two basic reasons. The first is that when an offence is committed people may not know that it is an offence. The other reason is that of distance from the police station. The officer also alluded to one very crucial situation. This is that children stay with their parents. The parents are supposed to take acre of their children including . They are supposed to protect and provide for their children. In some situations relatives or parents are actually the perpetrators of abuse on their children. In this case no one will report such cases.
Something that was clear was that not all cases concerning juveniles were not being reported. It was also clear that cases involving juveniles are taken as a ‘by-the-way’. As one enters the officer in charge’s office there are a lot of graphical statistics on different trends of crime rates. What is glaringly missing is the statistics on juvenile offences. This is lumped together as is indicated above and shown in the chapter on juvenile justice.
It will be noted that although data on child offenders are not well documented and kept the data captured on the police record form are very positive. For example indicators could be developed by disaggregating these data by age, sex, place or village or chief. Unfortunately while this data are captured on the record of information there is no effort or intent to systematically synchronize these data by way of creating spreadsheet or any analysis of these statistics. This is strongly recommended. There seems to be no intend to create data that are child focused.
- The Department of Social Welfare
The Department of Social Welfare was visited. Some of the data that are captured include the probation officers’ reports on juvenile offenders, monthly case records on juvenile offenders and referrals to institutions. For more details on this, please refer to section on child-parental relationship on Mudzi Case Study within this chapter.
It was observed that as in the main body of this report, data on juvenile justice is lumped up with the rest of child welfare data. This is because rightfully so, juvenile justice is child welfare. We therefore recommend that effort must be done to parcel out different aspects of child welfare in order to make it easier to monitor those different aspects.
Although we got data on institutions for the care of children, we were unable to visit any one of them. This is because there is no institution in Mudzi District.
Data on the health situation of children in Mudzi
Data from the health sector seems to be better organized and more comprehensive than that from other social sectors.
The moment one enters a health care centre one notices charts on the wall summarizing some of the records of the centre such as data on immunization levels attained, data on acute respiratory infections dealt with, and other similar information.
The records from health centres seem to be well managed. There is often data to show the total population which is within the catchment area of the centre. Furthermore, the population within the catchment area is disaggregated by age, mainly to take care of the under ones, under 5’s and in some cases the under 15’s. In other health centres the catchment area is wholly disaggregated by age to take care of such age groups as the 0-1; 1-4; 5-14; 15-49; and those over 50. In some such disaggregations are shown in actual numbers and as percentages of the total.
There are also data on live births and still births. Usually such data go together with the place of delivery, whether it was in a health care centre or under the supervision of a traditional midwife. If the delivery was still birth some reasons are offered. Generally for every birth there is a record for the birth weight, the general outlook and examination of the child. The child is then issued with a birth record card which is the basis for the child to be issued with a birth certificate by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Births are recorded in what are called delivery records. Delivery records have some of the following information:
1. Method of delivery (n.v.d)
2. Date and time of delivery
3. Complications of labour, including lacerations
4. Drugs given during labour.
5. Live birth or still birth and sex
6. Birth mass
7. Conditions of infant at birth
8. Doctor’s remark
9. Hospital number.
10. Name and address
11. Estimated period of gestation
12. Parity = number alive
13. Past obstetric complications
14. Date and time of admission
15. Abnormalities on admission
16. Date and time of onset of labour
Another piece of information that is very important are data on maternal health. Maternal health is important before and after delivery of the child. A healthy mother ensures a healthy foetus and child. Under this section there is also information on ‘child-mothers’. Information on child mothers is recorded in comparison with other mothers. For example it is important to know how many child mothers gave birth within the centre last year, every month of the year last year, etc, compared to the total of other mothers within the same period. Data from some health centres show some of these figures and in some clinics further show the number and percentage of child-mothers who delivered on time without any complications.
There are also data on immunization levels. The data are on immunizations such as BCG, DPT, immunization against measles, polio, etc. Most of the data are recorded in the form of special immunization programmes which come under the name of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and can be recorded as coverage 1 etc, together with the target reached in actual figures and as a percentage of the total catchment population to be immunized. Other immunization records are made up for as part of the daily diagnostic work of the nursing staff and is often recorded in the Government T 5 Forms. In fact in every health centre there are two records kept, the EPI records and the T 5 Forms. In some health centres data on immunization are compared to the previous month of the same year and in some cases further compared to data of the same month in the previous year. With such comparisons it is possible to compared data from various centres within the district in order to determine where there are children whose rights to health are least met. However, data from health centres does not show disaggregation by gender, or sex. The data are very silent on this issue. Furthermore, there is more emphasis on the under 5s especially on the EPI. Those children age above 5 are catered for within the data in the T 5 Forms. It is only in the T 5 Forms that one can pick up disaggregation by gender.
For clarity’s sake, the EPI records only show achievements made under the expanded programme on immunization while the T 5 Forms show data on any other diseases and conditions. The T 5 Form is arranged as follows:
+ 15 yrs
Data on personnel serving each health centre is also available in the records of each health centre. Normally every Rural Health Centre (RHC) is served by nurses, nurse aids and traditional mid-wives. These are shown how many they are and their qualifications or level of training.
In our survey on traditional midwives we noted that they basically do not keep information themselves although they do record information on any deliveries they have attended to. It seems that when traditional midwives have attended to a delivery, by understanding the mother should report to the nearest health centre without delay for further expert assistance.
Data from village community workers
Village Community Workers are lay people chosen by the community to work in the community as part of community development. They are people of reputable social standing within the community, with a reputation to deal well with people apart from the need for numeracy and literacy.
Village Community Workers are not civil servants. They can be said to be part-time assistants to civil servants at the village level. Like any other person in the community or village they spend most of their time working for the livelihood of their household than on the work entrusted to them by the community and the government, although there is flexibility in their latter responsibilities.
In the discussions we had with the Village Community Workers, it was clear that from an outsider’s point of view they may seem as if they have no clear job description despite the clear reporting structure (although they report to any government agency that they collaborate with at the community level).
Village Community Workers, firstly as members of the community and secondly, as development workers, are better placed to record and monitor the welfare of children and the community at large. While the issue of children is part of their work, they, however, have a broader mandate, that of taking care of the general welfare of the whole community.
Village Community Workers collect all sorts of data ranging from the economics, politics and social development issues of the village. They collect some such information as rural development, women’s issues, children’s issues, savings clubs, cooperatives, information on the health of the community, nutrition, and education, drought relief assistance, social assistance by the government, etc. As one VCW said, “We work with people in all their needs, concerns, fears and successes”.
We, however, noted that the Village Community Workers employ what one would call the ‘fire extinguisher approach’. It seems that first and foremost they deal with problems at the village level. They may not have the solutions identified right away at the community level but they further are the “eyes and the ears” of the authorities at the district level and beyond. As soon as a problem is identified they report it to all other government agencies with which they collaborate, such as education, health, social welfare and agriculture, just to name a few. It is in this regard that we realized that the Village Community Workers are basically collectors and transmitters of information. Through the direct line of command they transmit the information to the Ward Coordinator who in turn transmits it to the District Head of the Ministry of National Affairs.
As part of their regular work the Village Community Workers make regular visits to households within the village. Each time they visit they are interested in a particular issue or subject only, which can be the immunization of children, registration of newly born babies, construction of toilets or waste pits, dish-racks, etc. Once a month the Village Community Workers write a report to the Ward Coordinator at the Ward Level. The latter sends the reports from all the VCWs under him/her to the District Head Office. Also once a month, the VCWs meet with other representatives of other agencies (such as Environmental Health Technicians, nurses, village heads, Agricultural Extension Workers, etc) at the village level.
It was not possible to have a look at the records kept by the Village Community Workers because of protocol reasons and confidentiality. Judging from what we heard, the VCWs record information on most of the activities and incidents that happen at the village level. From those records they develop a finer record for the Ward Coordinator, and the latter in turn sifts information from all the VCWs in his or her ward to compile a report to the District Head. In the process, the richness of data on the ground or compiled by the VCWs is lost in the reports at higher offices.
Most VCWs told us that they keep records on the population of the village, disaggregated by sex or gender, and by age such as those below 1 year, those aged 1-5, 6-14, 15-64, and those above 65. The VCWs noted that it is possible to disaggregate data from the village but also by household as the data gathered from the households is the basis of the disaggregations at the village level. It therefore goes without saying that data gathered at the household level is disaggregated by sex or gender, age and other important characteristics. Thus data gathered by VCWs does stand the chance to be disaggregated as much as it could be possible.
On the whole the VCWs as a structure seem well placed to carry out monitoring of children’s rights and the general human rights at the community level. Thus it seems that with adequate resources and training the VCWs could play a leading role in the systematic collection and management of information at the village or community level and ultimately at the national level. Every village in this country has a VCW. With the right support and training of VCWs we could easily do away with expensive and sometimes wasteful censuses and nay other sentinel surveillance if all government agencies would make full use of the VCWs and other agencies that exist at the grassroots level. All that is required to realize this is only the political will from the powers that be. This might be difficult to realize since information is itself a resource. Information can be a very powerful political tool or resource and the powers that be may not be willing to invest in the VCWs which would be tantamount too investing in the community so that it is able to collect and manage its own information – information that is about itself. This could make the community to be able to compare itself with other communities. Furthermore, communities could have the power (derived from informed decisions) to request support or assistance from the state.
Data from community children’s rights committees
Community Children’s Rights Committees are basically structures made up of people elected from the community by other community members. The Community Children’s Rights Committees are basically a replication of the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee at the community level. Generally, the Community Children’s Rights Committees are made up of people who are influential within the community such as traditional leaders (headman/kraal heads), village development committee members, school teachers and other socially important members of the community.
Community Children’s Rights Committees transcend village and traditional leadership structures but are limited within the Ward Level.
On average the Community Children’s Rights Committees have ten members including committee members.
Records from the Community Children’s Rights Committees showed that information or data are not recorded in a systematic. In fact all the records from Community Children’s Rights Committees showed that little work has been done after their formation. Some were set up as just about the end of 1996 while others, although set up at the same time had not been active until about March, 1997. All the CCRCs had in fact had one meeting, save only for one or two. Most of the meetings were poorly attend, showing that the people who attended were mostly the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, and the secretary. In some cases meetings were poorly attended such that they were cancelled. For some of the CCRCs the minutes of these meetings were not comprehensive at all.
Before we even go into the details of the records kept by some CCRCs, we would like to point out that the work by the CCRCs is a good start but more work is required, specifically in terms of focus and vision on what the CCRCs stand for. In other words the CCRCs need to work out clear mission statements and objectives.
The Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee
This report will be incomplete if it did not evaluate the work of the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee. This basically was the documentation of the process of development of the Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee. Such documentation was guided by some of the following questions: how, why and when the MDCRC was formed; how was the MDCRC was introduced to the community and the community’s response to it; what the MDCRC has achieved and the problems or challenges it encounters.
The Mudzi District Children’s Rights Committee (MDCRC) is an initiative of the civil servants and the office of Redd Barna – Zimbabwe in the district of Mudzi. The MDCRC was born out of an interim committee that was tasked by the civil servants of the district of Mudzi to look into the increase in the number of child abuse especially sexual and physical abuse. The interim committee after consultations with the office of Redd Barna Zimbabwe (based in Mudzi) concluded that there was need to come up with such a committee.
Presently the committee is trying to introduce the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Mudzi community. In this initial stage they have started introducing those articles of the convention they feel are not in conflict with the traditional values.
The MDCRC comprises of 9 people who are, the chairperson, the Vice chairperson, the secretary, the vice secretary, the treasurer and 4 committee members one of which comes from the local community. The structure of the MDCRC is the same at the ward and village level. Taking into account that the civil servants in the MDCRC can be transferred any time from Mudzi , this could put the continuity and the ownership of the project at stake. It has also been noted that there is gender imbalance in the composition of the committee as there are more males than females.
The work of the MDCRC has been that of conscientizing the Mudzi community on issues of the rights of children in terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Presently they are covering wards out of the 16 wards in Mudzi. However it has been noted that the committee itself needs training in terms of understanding the issues of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter and human rights in general.
So far the committee has had a series of workshop to train the community mainly on issues of child abuse and neglect and they intend to cover the whole district by the end of 1997. There has been some positive impact of these workshop on the community as it has been reported that communities are coming forward to report cases of child abuse and neglect
There has not been any meaningful relationship between the MDCRC and Childwatch until the visit by the latter to Mudzi. It was agreed during the visit that Childwatch would work as technical advisor to the MDRC and this relationship has to be strengthened.
The aim of the MDCRC is to improve the welfare of children through a better understanding and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter within the District of Mudzi. This will be achieved through educating, training and supporting the Village Children’s Rights Committees, the local community and the children on the CRC in full and the African charter. The benefit from the experience of the MDCRC is that lessons derived from its experience can be replicated in other parts of Zimbabwe and within Southern and East African region.
While the work of the MDCRC is very commendable, it has, however, created some expectations which definitely need to be fulfilled. In discussions with the Community Children’s Rights Committees and the Village Community Workers, it was very clear that the MDCRC is doing very good work which however, needs to be followed up with capacity building and support of these grassroots structures. I our discussions we noted that the issue of children’s rights is not well understood by the grassroots structures. This is partly a result of the lack of adequate training and reading material mainly on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child. It is also clear that the MDCRC also needs further capacity building in training and a better understanding of the issue of children’s rights and human rights in general (see also the section on Community Children’s Rights Committees and the Village Community Workers).